Probate Law

Bristol County Probate Attorneys

Serving Clients throughout Northfolk County, Plymouth County, Cape Cod & the South Shore Area

While it might feel a bit overwhelming, getting your estate plan in order with the use of an experienced Massachusetts probate attorney can be extremely beneficial for you and your loved ones. A probate attorney can assist with all types of matters that may come before a probate court, including the drafting of estate planning documents, guardianship and conservatorship matters, and zealously advocating on your behalf in any probate litigation cases. At the Law Office of Rachel M. Matos, our experienced probate attorneys are prepared to assist with all your probate needs. To learn more about our wide range of legal services offered by our office, call or contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person's estate is settled and distributed under the supervision of the court. The primary goals of probate are to ensure that the deceased person's debts and taxes are paid and that the remaining assets are distributed to the rightful beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or, if there is no will, according to the laws of intestacy (the laws that govern the distribution of assets when there is no will).

Understanding the Probate Process in Massachusetts

The probate process typically involves several steps, which may include:

  • Validating the will: If there is a will, the court will determine its validity. This may involve verifying that the will was executed according to legal requirements and that the deceased person was of sound mind when it was created.
  • Appointing an executor or administrator: The court will appoint a person to oversee the probate process. If the deceased person named an executor in their will, that person will usually serve in this role. If there is no will or no executor named, the court will appoint an administrator.
  • Inventorying assets: The executor or administrator will create an inventory of the deceased person's assets, which may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and more.
  • Paying debts and taxes: The estate will be used to pay off any outstanding debts of the deceased person, including taxes, funeral expenses, and other liabilities.
  • Distributing assets: Once debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or the laws of intestacy.

The probate process can vary significantly depending on the size of the estate, the complexity of the assets involved, and state laws. In some cases, probate can be a lengthy and costly process, but it is designed to provide a legal framework for the orderly distribution of an estate's assets and the resolution of any outstanding financial obligations.

Streamlining the Probate Journey with Professional Legal Guidance

Probate is the court process that an estate must pass through after a person dies to ensure that final taxes are completed, creditors are paid, and any remaining assets are distributed according to the person’s will or the state’s intestacy laws. In most cases, probate takes a little over a year to complete, and an experienced probate attorney can ensure that the process is as quick and efficient as possible. A lawyer can also be critically important if an issue arises during the probate process that requires legal action.

Not all property in an estate is required to pass through probate, so it is important to have someone on your team who knows what is required and what is exempt from this process. Property held in joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, accounts and funds with named beneficiaries, life insurance proceeds, and assets held in trusts are all exempt from probate in Massachusetts. Probate also is not necessary for estates worth less than $25,000 with no real estate included or for estates where the assets do not exceed the combined value of the exempt property and final expenses of the estate. However, an attorney should still be utilized to file all the proper paperwork with the court and to handle any legal issues that may come up while finalizing the estate.

For estates that do need to go through the probate process, it begins with filing paperwork with the probate court and identifying an executor for the estate. The executor can be a family member, friend, or an attorney. The next step is collecting and inventorying all assets of the estate and notifying any potential creditors that they have one year from the date of the decedent’s passing to file a claim with the estate for any unpaid debts. Once all creditors are paid and the final taxes filed for the estate, any remaining assets are distributed according to the terms of the will, trust documents, or if none exist, the estate is distributed according to Massachusetts intestacy laws. Once the assets are distributed, the final paperwork is filed with the court that closes the estate, and the probate process is complete.

Occasionally, an issue will arise during the probate process that requires an experienced probate attorney to handle. Disputes over creditor claims is one common legal issue that may require litigation, and will contests are another if someone in the family disagrees with the contents of the will. Common claims in a will contest include undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, forgery, duress, and procedural issues that render the will void. Having a knowledgeable probate attorney to protect your interests in probate litigation can be the critical difference in protecting your interests and those of the estate if a legal challenge is brought to the probate court. The Law Office of Rachel M. Matos has the experience you need to handle all aspects of the probate process.

Our Satisfied Clients Read What They Say About Us

"She is always willing to help, returns calls the same day, and knows what she is doing."

- R.V.

Protect Your Present and Future Assets with Our Firm

Schedule an initial consultation with our firm to start planning your legal options today.
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